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Gillibrand Pushing For More School Funds In Next COVID Relief Bill

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is looking ahead to the next COVID relief bill, and wants to include money for community schools.

At an urban school in Syracuse and a rural school in St. Lawrence County Friday, Gillibrand touted the pluses of community schooling, which integrates social services into educational institutions.

“Anything that is a 360 degree view of what the student needs to succeed is what the schools need to focus on,” Gillibrand said in Syracuse.

She said the proposed $3.6 billion would dramatically increase currently allocated funds for wraparound services. And she believes those are more sorely needed because of the pandemic.

“A lot of kids are going to be deeply behind,” she said. “And so structural improvements, more head start, more special education, more after school programming.That’s what this money’s intended for."

At Dr. Weeks School in Syracuse, which is a community school, principal Diane Vitello knows how she would spend the cash.

“Definitely the before and after school programming,” Vitello said. “During a year when we are funded appropriately, we can have children in the school from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. That makes all the difference for families who need to work, multiple jobs even. And those opportunities allow for enrichment too.”

Gillibrand said she expects a COVID relief bill to be passed this spring. If this expansion of community school funding is included, it would be available for schools when they reopen in September.